The dynamic Chinese-American pianist Jenny Q Chai has gained attention for unconventional programs that combine piano pieces, live electronics and video imagery, like the one she presented on Sunday afternoon at Le Poisson Rouge, intriguingly titled “Where Is Chopin?”
Jenny Q Chai (Sunday) This thoughtful pianist narrates and performs a multimedia program that explores the relationship between the piano and electronics. She will play pieces by Schumann and Chopin, as well as Jaroslaw Kapuscinski’s “Where is Chopin?” — a work for Disklavier piano, stereo sound and visual projection. At 3:30 p.m., Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, near Thompson Street, Greenwich Village, 212-505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com. (Vivien Schweitzer)
Performing double piano concerto Zone de Turbulence by Philippe Manoury, with the dynamic Polish pianist Adam Kosmieja, with NOSPR orchestra conducted by the charismatic conductor Alexander Liebreich, at the inaugural concert of the historically important Warsaw Autumn festival.
Jenny Q Chai performs Manoury’s double piano concerto “Zones de turbulences” with Adam Kosmieja and the National Radio Symphony Orchestra in the inaugural concert of Poland’s largest contemporary music festival, with conductor Alexander Liebreich.
Marco Stroppa of Italy is a pre-eminently active and innovative composer in Europe. In his piano works Traiettoria for piano and computer-synthesized sounds (written from 1982 to 1984) and Miniature Estrose Vol. 1 – seven pieces for solo piano (written from 1991 to 2002), Stroppa has discovered many new and important nuances of the sound from the piano. His insightful studies, therefore, not only opened up new ways of thinking, but also enriched previous understanding of the sound world of the piano. A versatile music scholar and practitioner, Stroppa is at once a composer, a pianist, a musicologist, an electronic music engineer, a science researcher. In addition, Stroppa has studied media technology (covering cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence and computer music) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stroppa specializes in creating musical sounds that are rich with expressive quality, emotion, and poetic imagery, using an approach that is tied to the presentation of sheer quality of timbre, character, and articulation, giving a prominent and perceptual importance to the extreme details of the sound. He is also known to use cognitive psychology in composition.
A celebratory performance for Jenny Q Chai’s new recording:
“Life Sketches: Piano Music of Nils Vigeland” (Naxos Records)
On Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 7 pm, Shanghai/New York-based pianist Jenny Q Chai (www.JennyChai.com) will be throwing an album release party at New York City’s Spectrum (www.spectrumnyc.com). Spectrum is located at 121 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, New York City. (Essex stop on J, M and Z trains; Delancey stop on F Train.) Free admission.
Jenny Q Chai will be performing selections from Life Sketches, the latest digital release of the esteemed Classical label Naxos. Life Sketches is the product of a long-time collaboration between the Chinese pianist Jenny Q Chai and American composer Nils Vigeland.
Chai first met Vigeland when she was studying for her master’s degree, where he served as her theory teacher. With a shared a love of New Music, and an admiration for her playing, Vigeland gave Chai the score for his original work Life Sketches. “This was the first serious piano cycle I’d ever received from a living composer, and I took it very seriously,” said Chai. “…It was overwhelming!”
This world première recording presents five works spanning forty years in their date of composition. One of the selections, Allora e ora (Now and Then), is a suite of character pieces on Italian subjects, running a constant exploration of the unique resonances of the piano, especially those created through the use of the sostenuto pedal.
Another work, Five Pieces, is from 2010, and was specifically composed for and dedicated to Jenny Q Chai. “The different texture of each of the pieces was intended to give Jenny every opportunity to utilize her varied and remarkable gifts of touch and timbre,” said Nils Vigeland.
Chai will augment the evening’s performance with works by living composers Marco Stroppa and Jarosław Kapuściński, not included on the recording.
Stroppa’s Birichino is a boy who died as a casualty of police terror in Italy. While the subject matter appears heavy, the piece is light and humorous, with an overarching theme about refusing to be treated as a victim.
Kapuściński’s Juicy, a work about personified fruit, is a carefully designed work for piano and video, where the aural and visual aspects are equally important. Juicy will be played with the artificial intelligence software Antescofo, designed by Marco Stroppa at IRCAM.
Both supplemental works will be part of Jenny’s upcoming program at the Leo Brouwer Festival in Cuba. Bobby McFerrin, Yo-Yo Ma, and Jordi Savall will also be performing.
Nils Vigeland, Wild Hopes/Trumpets/Cambiata Waltzfrom Life Sketches
Nils Vigeland, L’empire des lumières
Nils Vigeland, Santa Fina/I Turisti from Allora e ora
Marco Stroppa, Birichino from Miniature Estrose
Jarosław Kapuściński, Juicy
Nils Vigeland, 2 and 4/ 5 from Five Pieces